Archive for the 'Change management' Category

Approaching redundancy with care

Some of you may have heard about Aviva’s recent faux pas when they accidentally sacked 1300 members of staff in 1 quick tap on the key board. A calamity for the HR department responsible for sending an email to 1300 people asking them to pack their bags and leave the building, when really it should have gone to just one person. Surely though, irrespective of the mistake of getting the audience wrong, is sacking by email really an acceptable way of letting staff go?

For anyone involved in Change Management, HR or Communications, the how and when of communicating redundancies often creates a high level of tension and discussion. The choices of who should communicate the message, how it should be communicated and when, always bring out different personal views and different cultural perspectives. Often those involved in making the decisions are influenced by either previous personal experiences or seeing what has worked or not worked in different organisations.

In all cases, I would encourage the decision makers to take a step back when thinking about the redundancy strategy. The decisions should be based on:

Being consistent with the Corporate values

Recognising that everyone who becomes and ex employee will be an advocate or an opponent and will build or damage your brand

Putting yourself in the shoes of those receiving the news

I am sure that if these 3 things are considered then the approach to communicating redundancy would change in many organisations. And more often than not the reasons for using short cuts (like sending an email) or impersonal and often fear based approaches would be shown up as being inconsiderate and unnecessary.

Whilst making people redundant is a difficult experience for all involved, I have seen it work well in organisations so people leave with their dignity intact. My hope is that more organisations will consider the big picture before getting in to a debate about the process.

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Newsletters make the world go round

In my meanderings through organisations of all shapes and sizes that are going through change, I hear many an Executive and consultant quote the stats about the importance of communication during change and how it’s one of the main factors that creates successful transformation. I’m encouraged by what seems to be an enthusiasm to focus on getting the communication right and then so often something happens and the focus shifts on to something else and there is a sense that communication is done. This often happens when the newsletter is up and running. It is this point when I want to cry, pull my hair out or hit my head against a brick wall.

Surely there is more to effective communication than the newsletter? Yet it often becomes the thing that takes a huge amount of time and energy and is used as the gauge for whether or not communication is happening. Think of the number of change projects that have a regular deliverable to tick off the list when the newsletter is done.

It seems to me that so often something significant is being missed. Whilst I totally endorse the use of newsletters/ emails/ intranet updates etc as a way to get information out about the change, this is only one layer of the communication required when an organisation is going through complex change.

I want to see more emphasis on:
– Interpersonal communication – give the manager the skills to communicate
– Using mechanisms to engage staff in the present and the future
– Stakeholder relationships

I know that there will be nods across the world to my statements here, from Executives, Project Managers and Communication professionals. We know what will really work so how come I’m left pulling my hair out when budgets are cut, the focus shifts and the effort required for fantastic dialogue dissipates?

Any thoughts on answers to this question, disagreements with my thinking or sharing of similar frustrations are welcome.

Is change management here to stay?

Out in the market place change management is growing in acceptance and understanding. More and more organisations are putting it on the agenda, recruiting people in to change management roles. It is shifting in to the everyday vocabulary of HR, Project teams and Executives.

Well done to all those who have been influencing this thinking – change management is here, taking its place on the corporate agenda. This is great news for all of us involved, who are sure of its relevance and importance.

So how come – when so much is being said about change management, so many people are calling themselves change managers and so many organisations have change management on the agenda – how come I am feeling underwhelmed by what is being achieved?

What I see happening in organisations at the moment is great news, yet I feel that for change management to stay in the corporate agenda something needs to change.

Great inroads are being made in to introducing change methodologies in to organisations, and no reputable project manager would consider having a project plan without a change management stream. This is good, is it enough? I think the answer to this is NO.

It’s absolutely right to have the change management methodologies in place. To stay on the corporate agenda and for the change management star to shine, there needs to be more.

I think the emphasis needs to shift to managing change rather than change management. A subtle shift yet one that will make a difference. Doing this will:

1. Include discussions about managing change in all strategic business thinking and decisions. If you are asking the questions – how will we achieve our goals? You will be thinking about the way you will manage change.

2. Make it a priority for all leaders and managers. Managing change isn’t just the responsibility of the change manager, the project manager or HR. Leaders and managers should be asking themselves “What do I need to do today for my team to be productive and how do I manage the changes necessary for us to be productive in the future?”

Focusing on managing change rather than change management will also bring about a shift in the role of the change manager. Whilst using change methodologies should be there, they should be the tools the change manager uses to have relevant conversations. The change manager should become more of a facilitator, an influencer and part of the decision-making leadership team.

I see all this being particularly relevant when you are looking at cultural change. It lifts the change management emphasis beyond the mechanics to a more exciting and useful place in the business.

It’s up to all change managers to create and be part of this shift so managing change becomes a strategic leadership discussion. Good luck to everyone involved in creating this future.

This blog appeared as a guest blog for the Australian College of Change Management on 1st November 2011

We must have open and honest communication

How many times have you heard this being said in your organisation? Or seen it as one of your company’s values?

I often run focus groups or interview people in organisations to understand what they want in their communication and inevitably this comes out – we must have open and honest conversations. When I probe this a little bit further it unearths all sorts of issues – for me it’s a communication and organisational minefield.

Organisationally or as a leader I really think you are shooting yourself in the foot if you put this one out as one of your values or principles. Continue reading ‘We must have open and honest communication’